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Full text of "Alaskan glacier studies of the National Geographic Society in the Yakutat Bay, Prince William Sound and lower Copper River regions"

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28                                   ALASKAN GLACIER STUDIES
rocky islands, known as 'nunataks/ alone break the monotony of the boundless sea of ice.1"
Filippo de Filippi describes the same view, as seen by the Duke of Abruzzi's party from Russell Col, as follows.2 Looking to the northwest they beheld " an interminable stretch of snow and ice, an infinite series of low mountain chains, bristling with numberless, jagged, sharp-pointed, and precipitous peaks, where rocks and ice fields were closely intermingled." From the summit of Mt. St. Elias the panorama revealed "an unexplored waste of glaciers and mountains, a vast zone bristling with sharp peaks and crags, rugged and precipitous to the south, snow-covered to the north, and surrounded by vast snow-fields free from crevasses, and connected with each other by the snowy cols of the mountain chains. The medium altitude of the snow fields is about 7000 feet, that of the mountains from 9000 to 10,000 feet. No words can express the utter desolation of this immeasurable waste of ice, which Russell has compared with the ice sheet that covers Greenland. No smallest trace of vegetation can be discerned on it, no running water, no lake. It might be a tract of primitive chaoa untouched by the harmonizing forces, of nature. Surveying this strange scene we realized for the first time that we were close to the limits of the mysterious Polar world."
This is the condition not only north of Mt. St. Elias, but east and southeast of it (PL II) past the glaciers that enter Yakutat Bay, past those that enter the Alsek River, and down to the supply ground of the Muir Glacier and the glaciers of the Fairweather Range.
Where not too steep, the mountain slopes and tops are buried beneath fields of snow, and with every snowstorm more is added to be avalanched into the valleys. So much snow is sliding from the mountain slopes, or falling in the valleys, and there being transformed into glacier ice, that the valleys are drowned in a flood of snow and ice which rises high up on the valley sides. The cirques are deeply filled, the divides are buried to a great depth, and lower peaks are partly or completely submerged beneath the vast accumulation of snow and ice. The result is that there are extensive areas of snow-covered ice between the higher peaks, and these areas, being often in divide regions, are the supply ground of glaciers radiating in several directions. It is, therefore, possible to travel from the terminus of one of the glaciers up to the ice-submerged divide area, and thence proceed down to the terminus of any one of the several glaciers fed from the same broad reservoir; but it would be difiicult to tell where the one glacier ends and the other begins. To such a glacier condition the name through glacier has been applied (Pis. HI, VH, LVIII, LX, A, and Fig. 12). Where well developed, as it is east of Russell Fiord, the through glacier condition forms an intricate maze of broad, rather flat-topped glaciers of moderate slope, which so submerge the mountains as to give them the appearance of a drowned mountainous land, like the island-skirted coast of southeastern Alaska.8
The snowfall in these broad reservoir areas is so great that the ice surface is leveled by it, and usually the moderate slope and the deep snow-cover combine to cause a smooth
»Russell, I. C., Second Expedition to Mt. St. Elias: Thirteenth Ann. Rept, U. S. Geol. Survey, pt. 2, 1892, p. 47.
«The Ascent of Mt. St. Elias, Alaska, by H. R. H. Luigi Amedeo di Savoia, Duke of the Abruzzi, Narrated by Filippo de Filippi, illustrated by Vittorio Sella and translated by Signora Linda Villari 'with the author's supervision, London, 1900, pp. 148-149,159.
* Tarr, R. S., The Yakutat Bay Region, Alaska, Professional Paper 64, U. S. Geol. Survey, 1909, p. 86.